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Oral thrush

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Small amounts of the fungus Candida albicans grow in healthy mouths. Oral thrush is the condition where this fungus grows rapidly and uncontrolled. The bacterium known as flora keeps the growth of Candida albicans under control in a healthy body. This is all part of the natural process that the body goes through. Oral thrush presents with creamy white paste that covers the tongue, and can spread rapidly to the roof of the mouth, gums, back of the throat, tonsils, and the inside of the cheeks. Babies, toddlers, older adults, and patients whose immune systems have been somehow compromised are most likely to come down with oral thrush.

ORAL THRUSH SYMPTOMS

Symptoms of oral thrush begin with a white pasty covering over the tongue and inside of the cheeks. As the oral thrush continues to develop, it can cause a mild amount of bleeding if the tongue is scraped or when the patient brushes their teeth. These symptoms may develop very quickly, but thrush can last for months. If the lesions of oral thrush spread down the esophagus, the patient may develop addition symptoms such as difficulty swallowing, the sensation of food being caught in the throat or the middle of the chest, and a fever should the infection continue to spread past the esophagus.
Oral thrush
Image: Oral Thrush


Breast feeding mothers with infants who have developed oral thrush may also experience symptoms such as unusual pain while nursing, painful nipples in between feedings, tight and shiny skin of the areola, red nipples, unusually sensitive nipples, and a feeling of stabbing pain that goes deep into the breast.

ORAL THRUSH CAUSES

Causes of oral thrush vary, although the most common cause is when the natural balance of bacteria and fungi are interrupted in the body. This can be caused by the use of antibiotics. The weakening of the immune system or the use of steroid medications like prednisone can also throw off the natural balance of the body causing oral thrush.

Illnesses can also contribute to the causes of oral thrush. Illnesses such as HIV or AIDS, cancer, vaginal yeast infections, diabetes, dry mouth, and the childhood disease which affects children under the age of 3, chronic mucocutaneous candidiasis.

ORAL THRUSH RISK FACTOR

Risk factors for developing oral thrush may include the use of dentures or partial dental prosthetics, the use of corticosteroids, antibiotics, or birth control pills, smoking cigarettes, being an older adult, or a compromised immune system.

A physician or a dental professional can typically identify oral thrush simply through visual inspection. The painful white lesions and creamy mouth coating are easy to recognize and most often come after the use of medication or in conjunction with an illness, although not always. However, the dental professional or the physician may do a throat culture to be sure that the oral thrush has not spread beyond what can be visually detected. If the throat culture comes back positive, then an endoscopic examination may be performed in order to detect how far the infection has spread. An endoscopic examination may produce results that implement the throat, the stomach, and even the upper part of the small intestines. A barium swallow may also be performed to determine how the oral thrush is affecting the digestive tract. A barium swallow is a thick liquid, typically flavored, that illuminates the internal path it takes through the digestive tract while x-rays are taken.
Mouth diseases
Image: Mouth Diseases

ORAL THRUSH TREATMENT

Healthy children and adults who have a case of oral thrush tend to experience no complications with the exception of its persistence and difficulty in leaving the body. For adults or children with a compromised immune system, complications can be more serious. Thrush can make swallowing or eating painful which can lead to poor nutrition. Adults and children with HIV need to receive adequate nutrition.


Those with compromised immune systems are more likely to experience a rapid spreading of the infection throughout the body. The digestive tract, lung, skin, or liver may be affected as well as the mouth and throat, leading to serious health problems.

Often healthy children with thrush need no treatment, and adults who are healthy may be able to return the balance of their bodies back to normal by eating unsweetened yogurt or taking capsules of acidophilus. Mothers and nursing infants need to be treated for thrush, as the chronic contact between breast and mouth is likely to simply pass the infection back and forth. Adults or children with weakened immune systems may require antifungal medications, intravenous nutrition, and careful monitoring while thrush is treated.

Oral thrush can last a very long time despite treatment. Although it can be painful, in most cases, oral thrush is harmless. Keeping the mouth clean and eating a very proper diet can help shorten the life span of oral thrush.
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